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PNB fraud: Mehul Choksi seeks cancellation of NBW over threat to life on TV

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Mehul Choksi

Mumbai, Sep 21 (IANS) Gitanjali Group owner Mehul Choksi, wanted in Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, on Friday moved a special CBI court claiming danger to his life after his return to India and sought cancellation of a non-bailable warrant issued against him.

In an application filed through his lawyer Sanjay Abbott, Choksi said his “apprehensions over his safety are based upon what transpired during a recent television debate on the fraud”.

In his application, Choksi informed the court that he was shocked to watch a TV debate on July 27, 2018 in which two callers on live television suggested that a special team consisting of special agents should be formed and suggested that the team should track the whereabouts of the present applicant and he (Choksi) should be “shot down”.

Choksi further said that the anchor also did not criticise the comment made by the caller and tactily agreed to it without any retaliation or without condemning the comment, “he laughingly said ok”.

Choksi said the caller also declared that the applicant (Choksi) is guilty and said that “killing of one person will set an example”.

“The above facts make it clear that the present applicant (Choksi) has serious threat to life on his return as if a person is having the audacity to suggest to shoot the applicant on national television, then one can easily imaging the threat that the applicant (Choksi) is facing if he returns to India,” it said.

Choksi, who had acquired Antiguan citizenship ealier this year, through his lawyer also sent some audio and video CDs claiming that they contained the cited footage from the news channel debate.

He has urged the court to make his submission a part of the court records and, in light of the same, to cancel the non bailable warrant issued against him.

On May 22 this year, the court had issued the NBW against Choksi after taking cognisance of the second charge sheet filed in the PNB fraud case by the CBI.

Choksi’s lawyer speaking to IANS said, “The court has directed the CBI to file reply on the submissions made by Choksi by October 3 which is the next date of hearing.”

Earlier in June this year, Choksi had filed a plea claiming that he had been advised bed rest on account of his ill health following a “heart operation”.

In his plea Choksi also said that he feared that once in India, the probe agencies would not help him secure the kind of medical treatment and supervision he required.

He had also raised the issue of “trend of mob lynching” in the country, and he feared that he might become a victim of such lynching.

Choksi and Nirav Modi are under probe by both the CBI and ED. The ED had on May 24 and 26 filed the chargesheets against both. The court took cognisance and issued non-bailable warrants against them.

Nirav Modi left India along with his family in the first week of January, weeks before the scam was reported to the CBI. His wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and Choksi on January 4.

Business

‘Corporate vultures eying small banks, merge Lakshmi Vilas Bank with govt bank’

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Sensex equity Nifty

Chennai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should take a prompt and correct action of merging the 93-year-old Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) with a nationalised bank, a top leader of one of the largest bank unions said.

“There are a number of corporate vultures that are circling the small-old generation private banks for a take over. These regional banks have their own tradition and culture and taking them beyond certain borders and expanding their size will result in failure,” All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C.H. Venkatachalam told IANS.

It is not known who brings the suitors for the south-based, regional old-generation private banks and for what purpose.

Referring to the voting out of seven Directors of the Lakshmi Vilas Bank, and the statutory auditors by a group of shareholders at annual general meeting held on September 25, Venkatachalam said it is time for the RBI to act quickly in the interests of depositors.

“The RBI should take necessary steps to merge the LVB with a public sector bank to protect the depositors, rather than looking out for suitors who may not be suited for the bank’s culture,” he said.

According to Venkatachalam, banks like the LVB, Karur Vysya Bank (KVB), Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB), Karnataka Bank and others are largely regional banks steeped in their own tradition.

“Expanding them into unknown territories would result in trouble for them,” he said.

Citing the case of Kerala-based small-sized Dhanlaxmi Bank, Venkatachalam recalled that around 2008-2012, it made a loss of over Rs 850 crore as the top management brought it to serious problems in the name of modernising it.

He said with the intervention of the RBI, a change in top management, and strengthening its capital base, etc. and inducting some reputed people on the bank’s Board, Dhanlaxmi Bank turned around and earned profit.

As a part of turnaround, the bank closed down many of its branches in north Indian states, where inadequate controls landed it in problems, he said.

Venkatachalam said for the past two years, the Dhanlaxmi Bank is making profits with the profit for last fiscal being Rs 65 crore – the highest since the bank’s inception.

He pointed out the Kumbakonam-based City Union Bank, which is operating steadily, as an example of a well-run, small-sized old generation bank which was started in 1904.

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Agri laws are death sentence for farmers: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress party is also protesting against the farm laws across the country.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Sep 28 : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that the agriculture-related laws are a “death sentence” for farmers whose voice has been crushed both inside and outside Parliament.

“The agriculture laws are a death sentence to our farmers. Their voice is crushed in Parliament and outside. Here is proof that democracy in India is dead,” he said on Twitter.

Gandhi tagged a news report along with his tweet that claimed that Opposition members demanding a division of votes were on their seats when the farm bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha, while the government said they were not.

Gandhi and his Congress party have been demanding that the farm legislations be withdrawn as they are not beneficial for farmers, who will be enslaved at the hands of private players and big businesses.

The Congress party is also protesting against the farm laws across the country.

The government has, however, asserted that the new laws will free farmers from the clutches of middleman and allow them to sell their produce anywhere they want at a remunerative price.

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Congress protests against farm laws in Goa, demands rollback

“If this is not a new ‘zamindari system’, what else is? Through this specious mode of contract farming, farmers will be left at the mercy of big companies, courts and bureaucracy in the event of any dispute.

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Goa Congress Farm Protest

Panaji, Sep 28 : The Congress in Goa on Monday staged a protest at the Raj Bhavan here to protest against the three new agricultural laws and demanded their rollback.

In a memorandum submitted at the Raj Bhavan, Goa Congress leaders leading more than 1,000 protestors claimed the new legislations were “anti-farmer but corporate-friendly”.

Parliament passed the three Bills in its Monsoon Session. President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent on September 24 whereas the central government published it its gazette on Sunday.

“The biggest flaw in the contract farming law is that Minimum Support Price (MSP) is not mandatory. Once the mandi system is abolished, farmers will be solely dependent on contract farming and big companies will decide the price of farmer’s crops on their own,” claimed the memorandum signed by top Congress functionaries and addressed to the President of India.

“If this is not a new ‘zamindari system’, what else is? Through this specious mode of contract farming, farmers will be left at the mercy of big companies, courts and bureaucracy in the event of any dispute.

“In such a scenario, powerful big companies will naturally exercise their influence on bureaucracy and attack the very livelihood of farmers by engaging them in the legal intricacies and earn profits,” the memorandum said.

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